Republican Lisa Scheller, left, and Democratic incumbent Susan Wild, congressional candidates for the 7th District, shake hands after their debate Oct. 6 at Muhlenberg College, Allentown. The second half of the debate will air on “Business Matters” 7:30 p.m. Oct. 17 on WFMZ-TV. (Photo by Donna Fisher./Armchair Lehigh Valley).
By Katherine Reinhard and Robert. H. Orenstein
Incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Susan Wild is entering the final stretch of her reelection campaign for the Lehigh Valley’s 7th Congressional District with $1.5 million in cash on hand, nearly three times that of her opponent Republican Lisa Scheller.
Wild, a former lawyer from South Whitehall Township, pulled in $1,728,927 in contributions for the period July 1 to Sept. 30. That’s about $1 million more than Scheller, who received $775,662, according to the latest campaign finance reports filed Saturday with the Federal Election Commission.
Despite lagging in fundraising, Scheller of Allentown vastly outspent Wild in advertising over the last three months as the Republican tapped her campaign’s cash to pay for $1.15 million in advertising. By comparison, Wild spent $343,260 on advertising.
The Wild-Scheller race, a rematch from 2020 when Wild won with 51.9 percent of the vote, is viewed as pivotal for both parties as Democrats seek to stay in control of and Republicans move to retake the House. The website fivethirtyeight has declared it a toss-up thanks to redistricting.
It’s no surprise that the combined $2.5 million raised in the reporting period is the largest among all congressional races in Pennsylvania, according to calculations by Politics PA.
Coming in second at $2.1 million is the race between Democrat Chris Deluzio and Republican Jeremy Shaffer in western Pennsylvania’s 17th District. The race for the 8th District between incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright and Republican Jim Bognet is third with $2.06 million, Politics PA calculated.
Going into the Nov. 8 election in the 7th District, the cash-on-hand difference between the two has narrowed compared to the end of June when Wild had nearly $2 million more.
At this point in the 2020 campaign, Wild also had a large fundraising advantage over Scheller.
Her 2020 campaign raised $3,907,183 over the previous 21 months, spent $2,503,652 and ended the reporting period of Sept. 30 with $1,547,706 in cash.
By comparison, Scheller reported receipts of $2,954,297, expenses of $2,522,293, leaving $330,314 for the final weeks of the campaign in 2020.
According to campaign finance reports for the 2020 and 2022 campaigns, Scheller, a multimillionaire, loaned her campaigns $3,060,000. There was no indication in the reports that the loans were repaid, indicating that she forgave most of the total. The October quarterly report for 2022 shows three outstanding loans she made to her campaign in 2020 and 2021 totaling $860,000.
Since the start of the current congressional campaign reporting period in 2021, Wild raised a total of $5.8 million and spent $4.3 million, leaving her with $1.57 million in cash in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 8 election.
During that same time, Scheller raised a total of $3.2 million and spent $2.7 million, leaving her with $544,061 to start the final stretch of the current campaign.
Here are more details from their latest campaign finance reports, filed Oct. 15, with the Federal Election Commission.
Wild received $1,269,555 – the bulk of her money – from individuals. That includes $761,237 that was funneled through Act Blue, a fundraising platform for Democrats.
She received $253,350 from political action committees, $4,096 from political parties, and $201,639 in authorized transfers. She had $3,292,955 in expenditures.
Her advertising expenses of $343,260 do not include the $307,802 that the LCV Victory Fund, an arm of the League of Conservation Voters, spent on a TV ad it pulled after Scheller complained about its inaccurate portrayal of her company’s environmental record.
Wild ended up with $1,502,606 leftover for the reporting period. She had no loans.
Individual donors include: Bethlehem attorney Martin Cohen ($2,900); Jeff Shell, CEO of NBC Universal ($2,900); Susan Yee, internet entrepreneur and former COO of Twin County Cable ($2,500); Malinda Pennoyer Chouinard, owner of Pagoda Works ($2,900); Leonard Lauder, chairman emeritus of Estee Lauder ($2,900); Carrie Eglinton Manner, president and CEO of OraSure Technologies ($2,500); and Allentown developer Nat Hyman, CEO, ($1,000)
Contributions from PACs supporting Democratic stances include include NARAL Pro-Choice America PAC ($6,150); Planned Parenthood Action Fund ($2,500); and the Sustainable Energy And Environment Coalition PAC (SEEC PAC) ($5,000).
Wild’s union support included the United Mine Workers Of America – Coal Miners Political Action Committee ($2,000); the American Postal Workers Union Committee On Political Action ($2,500) and the United Steelworkers Political Action Fund ($5,000).
Her health field-related donations included the American Medical Association Political Action Committee ($2,000); American Hospital Association Political Action Committee ($4,500); American Academy Of Dermatology Association Political Action Committee (SkinPAC) ($2,500).
Contributions from candidates include: Marc Veasey Congressional Campaign Committee ($2,000); Lori Trahan For Congress Committee ($1,000): Matusi for Congress ($1,500); Val Arkoosh For US Senate ($2,000); and Tony Cardenas For Congress ($2,000).
Wild, who like Scheller, is Jewish, received $2,900 from Democratic Jewish Outreach PA; $9,250 from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Political Action Committee, and $1,000 from the Pro-Israel America PAC.
In the most recent quarterly report, Scheller received $585,648 in contributions from individuals – including $267,611 via WinRed, the Republican national political fundraising organization – and $158,975 from PACs. Scheller also received $24,648 from the Republican Jewish Coalition PAC.
Other PAC contributors are affiliated with national Republican figures as well as traditional conservative causes.
Among the PACs that donated $5,000 each are Tomorrow Is Meaningful (Republican Sen Tim Scott of South Carolina); Stand for America PAC (Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor and U.N. Ambassador during the Trump administration); National Association of Manufacturers PAC; Scheller’s own PAC, Leadership in Saving America; Greater Tomorrow PAC (U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson, who represents Pennsylvania’s 15th District); Congressional Leadership Fund, led by House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy (the PAC has also run a series of TV ads critical of Wild). The NRA of American Victory Political Fund PAC donated $4,950.
Individual donors of note include Charles Hammel of Sewickley, Pennsylvania, CEO of Pitt Ohio, $2,900; David F. Jaindl, CEO of Jaindl Farms in the Lehigh Valley, and members of his family (Jacquelyn and Mary), $9,300 total; James E. Kreibel, of Clarion, Pennsylvainia, president of the natural gas drilling company Kriebel MInerals, $2,900; John Malloy, president of Easton area Victaulic Co., and his wife, Jane, $5,800 total; Trevor Rees-Jones of Dallas, Texas, former owner of Chief Oil & Gas, which operated wells in Texas and in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale gas fields, and his wife, Jan, $5,800; J.B. Reilly, president of City Center Investment, Allentown’s major developer, $2,500.
Katherine Reinhard and Robert H. Orenstein are reporters for Armchair Lehigh Valley, a publishing partner of the Pennsylvania Capital-Star, where this story first appeared.
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